Kids find a unique way to aid cutting-edge recycling project

Durable insulation is the product of collaboration between Paloma school and Phoenix Fibers.

Kyrene de la Paloma Elementary School students donated a total of 3,138 pounds of recyclable textiles to Phoenix Fibers, a sister company of Chandler’s United Fibers and Bonded Logic, to be converted into insulation during a first-time recycling drive for the school.

Deb Striker, physical education instructor at Paloma, helped organized the event with student council members after being contacted by Julie Graham of Chandler’s Phoenix Fibers.

During the week of Feb. 6, students collected recyclable materials to be collected on Friday, when Graham and Laurie Meade, also with Phoenix Fibers, drove their truck to the school to load materials from each classroom, weighing bags of clothes and other items on an oversize scale as students cheered with excitement.

“We though this was a phenomenal way to have every family participate without any cost outlay,” Graham said.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of financial situation you’re in – everyone has something that’s too tight or too worn, it’s old or something they just want to get rid of.”

Paloma is the 27th school Phoenix Fibers has visited after the company started six months ago.

The recycling event also served as a fundraiser for Paloma, with Phoenix Fibers giving back 10 cents per pound of items collected. The class that collected the most pounds also received a pizza party courtesy of the company the following school day.

Phoenix Fibers collects textile recyclables, including clothes and other high-cotton content material, used to make insulation for houses, Meade said.

“Textiles can be anything material-based, so that’s why were able to take the clothing, sheets, linens – anything with high-cotton content material, but we’ll take whatever they need because it helps we their fundraising.”

Student council members Kaitlyn and Brooke said the event helped raise awareness for recycling for the school.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Kaitlyn said. “It’s really weird how they can make the insulation; it’s pretty cool.”

Graham said the drive helps students realize how old materials can be used for different purposes.

“A lot of the kids…don’t know that we can recycle textiles and have it actually make a product,” she said.

Graham added that, on average, each individual in the U.S. throws away about 68 pounds of clothing a year in a landfill.

“It’s helping them realize there is another outlet in a fun way to do it,” she said. “And, if they’re going to get rid of it anyway, why not give to their school.”

As for Phoenix Fiber, program co-coordinator Laurie Meade said the full scope of the company’s efforts sometimes defy easy explanation, even though they can be summed up very simply:

“We like to tell people we can insulate a small home with about 500 pairs of jeans.”



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